Compiled from various appearances along the Grace World Tour in 1995, these poignant live tracks capture Jeff Buckley's raw passion, elegance and vocal prowess in its most organic form. Produced by the late singer's mother, standouts include the rarely performed beauty "What Will You Say" (the only song not off Grace), as well as an eerie rendition of "Dream Brother," which showcases a haunting mid-song high note, the powerful "Last Goodbye" and two very different performances of both "Grace" and "So Real."
Since he was the son of cult songwriter Tim Buckley, Jeff Buckley faced more expectations and pre-conceived notions than most singer/songwriters. Perhaps it wasn't surprising that Jeff Buckley's music was related to his father's by only the thinnest of margins. Buckley's voice was grand and sweeping, which fit with the mock-operatic grandeur of his Van Morrison-meets-Led Zeppelin music.
Jeff Buckley resented being called a folk singer, but he made his name playing solo acoustic sets like this one on the New York coffee circuit. Sony released this live EP before his first fully produced rock album, Grace, perhaps to attract attention to the raw power of Buckley's greatest gift, his voice. These four songs certainly accomplished that end. Buckley hurdles seemingly unreachable octaves, suspends notes for what seems like minutes, and belts out his falsetto without a scintilla of restraint. That's a positive inasmuch as it allowed him to show off his considerable talent; it's a negative when it sounded like he was showing off. But his ten-minute cover of Van Morrison's "The Way Young Lovers Do" is a tour de force of strumming and scatting, and his acoustic "Eternal Life" has an electricity that is paradoxically lacking on the plugged-in album version.
Singer, songwriter and guitarist Jeff Buckley's untimely death gives the 108-minute Live in Chicago inevitable poignancy and power as a rare, complete document of his passionate writing and playing style. At the time of Buckley's ascendance in the mid-90s, both his high-flying vocal attack and his edgy poetic sense struck older listeners as genetic markers from his father, folk-rock legend Tim Buckley.